Have you ever considered what draws us to Pinterest versions of kitchens and bathrooms and master bedrooms? Beyond color schemes and updated decor, I am certain it is the thing missing in every picture, rather than present, that reels us in.
Clutter. More specifically the complete absence of clutter is what makes all those photos look so relaxing and inviting. Unfortunately the more people sharing the home, the more stuff will collect. While not realistic to have a completely clutter free home (if you actually live in it), there are ways to cut down on the overgrowth that adds a visually chaotic backdrop disrupting the peaceful and relaxing feeling we all long to experience in our homes.
Here are the four organizational tools you need to begin decluttering: one or two large tubs, two sturdy folders, a medium accordion file and an emptied drawer in your kitchen.
Choose two main areas to make “no clutter zones” and begin to teach your family not to leave their items in these areas. In our home the dining room table and living room stay clear. The only things on my dining room table while we are not eating are placemats and a centrepiece/seasonal decor. The table is a focal point in my house so I like it to stay clear visually. The living room is a space I can sit and relax while I read or write and a place to visit if a friend pops over. Knowing it stays picked up lowers stress about the house being presentable if needed.
Hint: create a family Lost and Found tub. All items found in the No Clutter Zone (shoes, glasses, toys, etc) get put in the tub. The owner has one week to get them out by doing a chore of mom’s choosing. If they are left after a week, toss, donate or sell! This system saved me an hour a day of putting everyone’s stuff back where it belonged. It took 5 minutes to throw everything I found in the tub. There was much weeping an gnashing of teeth on the part of the children- but, they started picking up better and I got random chores done. Win-win!
Sort and toss mail/kids school papers/receipts every single day. Most of our mail gets tossed immediately. Bills go into a drawer in the kitchen with my budget book. In the same drawer is my folder for papers that needed to be kept such as field trip info or social studies project list. Receipts I need for tax purposes go into a large Manila envelope and receipts for returns/warranties/instruction manuals go in my other folder. The main thing is not to permit stacks of paper to pile up. Having a simple place to store papers that you frequently throw away as they are no longer needed is essential to not procrastinating. The whole process of sorting papers is about 10 minutes a day but the level of clutter it reduces is exponential.
Hint: If you have stacks of stuff you’ve been “meaning to go through” in corners all over the house, do this on the first day of decluttering: take ALL the papers and put them in a giant tub w/lid. For the next month, every time you sit down to watch TV or Netflix, make yourself first sort papers for 10 minutes. Whatever you don’t get to, stays in the tub. Chances are you will have an empty tub by the end of the month!
Okay Mama’s- go declutter and destress! It feels so good to have some clear and clean spaces amidst the million little signs of life in a well lived in home. Our house is far from perfect, but keeping just those two areas under control help me feel relaxed and happy in my home, so I can focus my energy on loving the people!